Winning in MP, Chhattisgarh, probably winning Telangana, 'very close' in Rajasthan: Rahul Gandhi

Speaking at a conclave organised by the Pratidin Media Network of Assam, Gandhi also said the idea of 'One Nation, One Election' was aimed at distracting from real issues of the people

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (photo: National Herald archives)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (photo: National Herald archives)


Exuding confidence about a good showing in the upcoming assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said that as of now the Congress is certainly winning Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, probably winning Telangana, and there is a "very close" contest in Rajasthan which the party believes it will emerge victorious in.

The senior Congress leader also referred to the row over BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri's derogatory remarks against BSP leader Danish Ali in Lok Sabha, alleging that the BJP indulges in such tactics to distract from the demand for a caste census.

He asserted that the opposition is adapting and working together and the BJP is "in for a surprise in 2024" general elections.

Speaking at a conclave organised by the Pratidin Media Network of Assam, Gandhi also said the idea of 'One Nation, One Election' was aimed at distracting from real issues of the people.

"It's one of the BJP's distraction strategies," he asserted.

The main issues in India are concentration of wealth, huge inequality in wealth, massive unemployment, huge unfairness towards the lower caste, OBCs, and tribal communities, and price rise, he said.

"Now, the BJP can't contest those. So 'let's have Mr. Bidhuri make a statement. Let's get together and sort of have elections together. Let's change the name of India'. This is all a distraction. We know it, we understand it. And we're not going to let them do it," he said.

He asserted that his party not winning any of the states in the upcoming state polls is out of the question.

Assembly polls are scheduled to take place in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.

Asked about the party's chances, Gandhi said, "I would say, right now, we are probably winning Telangana, we are certainly winning Madhya Pradesh, we are certainly winning Chhattisgarh. Rajasthan, we are very close, and we think we will be able to win. That is what it is looking like, and by the way, that is also what the BJP internally is saying." The Congress learnt a very important lesson in Karnataka that the BJP wins elections by "distracting and not allowing us to construct our narrative and so we fought the polls constructing our party's narrative".

"What you are seeing today, this gentleman Mr Bidhuri and then suddenly Mr Nishikant Dubey, all this is the BJP trying to distract from the idea of caste census. They know that the caste census is a fundamental thing that the people of India want and they don't want to have that discussion," the former Congress chief said.

"Every time we bring a point on the table, they use this type of stuff to distract us and we have learnt now how to deal with it," he said.

"What we did in Karnataka is we gave a clear vision for the state, 'this is the social security programme that we are going to set up for you' and then we control the narrative.

"If you look at the Telangana polls, we are controlling the narrative, the BJP is not even in the narrative, it is gone. The BJP has been decimated and it is over in Telangana," Gandhi said.

He claimed that the Congress is controlling the narrative in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the run-up to the polls there.  "If you speak to people in Rajasthan on what is the issue in terms of anti-incumbency, they will tell you they like the government," he said.

"We are adapting in a situation where the BJP controls the media. Don't think the opposition is not capable of adapting, we are adapting, we are working together, we are 60 per cent of India's population. BJP is in for a surprise in 2024 (Lok Sabha polls)," he said.

Gandhi also said that the women's reservation bill can be implemented "tomorrow morning" and all that is required to be done is to state that 33 per cent of the seats will be reserved in the Lok Sabha and assemblies.

There is no connection between women's reservation and census or between women's reservation and delimitation, he argued.

Gandhi also claimed that the government came up with the idea of a special session to distract from media reports in newspapers such as the Financial Times on the Adani matter.

"The first thing they were planning to do was to change India to Bharat but there was a huge backlash, they realised people will not like this, so put that in the background and came up with this," he claimed.

The government is basically saying that women will reap benefits of the reservation bill after 10 years but the Congress wants it now, he added.

Talking about the 2024 general elections, Gandhi said the opposition is thinking about this election in a fundamentally different way than any other election before it.

"The opposition is united in the idea that India is now under attack. The concept of India, of free elections, of free speech - they are now under mortal threat. This thinking is unanimous among us all, which means we have to be flexible and we have to fight for the soul of India, which requires a different level of cooperation," he said.

The bulk of alliances in the opposition camp are stitched up such as in big states like Kerala, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, he said.

"In some smaller places, we face a few issues, which we will try to iron out. Now we are seeing this as a fight to defend the idea of India, while earlier we used to see it merely as a contest between political parties," Gandhi said.

He alleged that the BJP has essentially created a friendly monopoly and Gautam Adani is being handed control of key industries in the country.

"While there are other monopolists as well, he is the primary figure. He amasses a massive concentration of wealth and the BJP generates a substantial amount of money from this," he alleged.

"So, there's control over the media and finances. Please ask any businessman what happens when they support an opposition party," he said.

"Amidst these challenges, we are performing quite well. We have united and I've never seen the opposition working like this before - with so much flexibility - because we're not fighting a political party but defending the idea of India. That's why we named our alliance INDIA," Gandhi said.

He also hit out at the government over the situation in Manipur, saying he had never seen in his entire life what he saw in the northeastern state.

"I have never seen a situation where the government of India has no control. What is happening is the politics of hatred that the BJP has been playing, which has destroyed the state of Manipur. The idea of Manipur doesn't exist anymore, and we have to restore it," he said.

During the interaction, Gandhi also talked about his recent Ladakh visit during which he toured the Union Territory on a motorcycle.

He said it allowed him to continue the Bharat Jodo format in a different way.

On his learnings from his over 4,000-km Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi said that in the 21st century India, the communication architecture is so captured by the BJP that it is practically impossible to speak to the people of India through that.

"It is very clear that my YouTube channel, my Twitter, they are all suppressed. The yatra was a necessity for us. No matter what the opposition says, it does not go through without distortion in the national media," he said.

"Big learning was old school communication - going and meeting people - which Mahatma Gandhi ji pioneered in the modern era, others pioneered in older times, that still works," he said.

"For me, personal learning was even more interesting. It is that where you think your limit lies, is nowhere your limit actually lies. Your limit is much further than you can imagine," he said. 

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